Much fuss over retrieved Stravinsky score

Much fuss over retrieved Stravinsky score


norman lebrecht

November 30, 2016

This Friday, will broadcast from St Petersburg what is said to be the world premiere of Funeral Song by Igor Stravinsky, a recently rediscovered score. Valery Gergiev’s Mariinsky concert, which you can watch here, will also include Stravinsky’s Firebird and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Suite from The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh.

Stravinsky wrote Funeral Song in 1908 to mourn the death of his teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

No sooner was this event arranged with the publishers than the Philharmonia announced a UK premiere, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen in February, and the Chicago Symphony a US premiere, conducted by Charles Dutoit in April. Thomas Sanderling will conduct the first Finnish performance at the Helsinki Festival.

All a bit much for a work lasting just 12 minutes.




  • Mathieu says:

    Err… Duration is by no means indicative of quality. Some of the greatest pieces ever written last much less.

  • Joel Lazar says:

    Stravinsky in various later memoirs recalled it as one of his most interesting pre-Firebird works. Doesn’t seem in the least to be excessive fuss–minor works by major composers are often quite attractive and interesting. Or shall we start to argue and pontificate about Stravinsky’s standing?

  • mbhaz says:

    Much fuss? I don’t think so. Anytime we can learn more, and hear more, from our greatest composers, it is a big deal, at least for me. We’re long past debating whether Stravinsky was a great composer or not. He was, although conductors sure seem to think he only wrote three or four things worthy of performance. This new discovery may not be an earth-shattering masterwork, but who cares? I hope it gets to YouTube and CD very quickly.

  • Sixtus says:

    In the Medici link provided, Stravinsky describes the score:

    “Unfortunately, the score of this work disappeared during the revolution… I no longer remember the music, but I recall very well my idea for the work. It was like a procession of all the soli instruments of the orchestra, coming in turns to each leave a melody in the form of a crown on the master’s tomb, all the while with a low background of murmuring tremolos, like the vibrations of bass voices singing in a choir.”

    This description alone makes me want to hear it. I don’t care how long it is.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed, it makes one very curious. Early Stravinsky is very interesting, especially ‘before’ he found ‘his voice’.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    106 measures over 12 minutes. That will be slow.

  • Eric says:

    I don’t think it’s a big fuss. You often report on recently found possible editions by Mozart or Beethoven. So, why treat this one differently as “much ado about nothing”? I think it’s fascinating that there is 1) a discovered Stravinsky piece and 2) that it’s in honor or Rimsky-Korsakov.